March 25, 2008

Observations

The Democratic-lead minority caucus in the Niagara County Legislature would like to cap the tax on local gasoline purchases. We say it's about time. New York State capped the tax on gas at $2.00 per gallon over a year ago. Before the Leg makes such a move, we want to know what the financial impact will be and where that lost revenue will be made up from. As long as it won't be made up in my property taxes, go for it.

The vicious attack of a 12 year-old girl on her way to school in North Tonawanda is a parent's worst nightmare. We're going to go out on a limb and say that the perpetrator is likely someone with previous history of sexual deviancy. Not that it would or wouldn't have made a difference in this case, but it's imperative that parents know who is living in their neighborhood that should potentially be cause for concern. To view all registered sex offenders within one mile of a specific address in Niagara County, simply paste http://www.icrimewatch.net/index.php?AgencyID=54113 into your browser.

With the the decision by George Maziarz to remain in the New York State Senate and not seek the seat of retiring Congressman Tom Reynolds, the field of candidates is sure to get interesting. While the Democratic side looks relatively clear, our money is on David Bellavia of Batavia to get the GOP nod. Bellavia is drumming up serious support, and his record of military service is thought to nullify any advantage that Jon Powers may have as a veteran.

One has to wonder what Gary Parenti was thinking. Parenti was arrested on charges of impaired driving, driving without a license and running a red light. What's mind boggling is what the officers said lead to the arrest- when they first saw Parenti’s Ford Explorer stopped at a red light at 19th Street and Pine Avenue, the driver honked the horn, drove through the red light and was pulled over at 19th and Falls streets. Talk about drawing attention to yourself. Parenti is a longtime Democratic Party operative who lost a bruising battle for a New York State Assembly seat two years ago against incumbent Francine DelMonte.

Since the State Legislature passed legislation three years ago requiring districts to undergo a state comptroller’s audit and to tighten their internal checks and balances, more than 350 schools have been audited. Last year, the state completed 226 audits, including more than two dozen in Western New York. Another 200 audits are under way. Each of the state’s 834 school districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services and charter schools is to be audited by 2010. There are some common themes in the state audits released last year:
• 48 percent showed deficiencies in the process to make sure schools spend money appropriately.
• 41 percent found weaknesses in computer security.
• 24 percent found payments to school officials that were not included in their contracts.
• 10 percent found inappropriate payments to officials when they leave a district.

Once again, we have to ask: Where is the public outcry over these findings? If these findings were about the County Leg or a local municipality, there would be calls for public lynchings in the town square. But since the findings focus on the untouchable school districts, this story barely is a blip on the radar.

Lastly, a week after admitting that he had been unfaithful to his wife on multiple occasions, Governor David Paterson made another confession about his past, telling a television interviewer on Monday that he had tried both cocaine and marijuana. All of the sudden Governor Joe Bruno doesn't sound that far fetched.

17 comments:

pirate's code said...

Interesting observation on the sales tax on gasoline. I would add a preliminary question -- what happened to the "extra" money the county has brought in as a result of rapidly rising gasoline prices? I can't imagine anyone's budget cyrstal ball anticipated the current $3.40 per gallon, so the presumption is that the county is collecting more than it anticipated.

In any event, with $4 per gallon in the offing for summer, now would be as good a time as any to set a cap. Now, where did I park that moped?

Fawn Leibowitz said...

11 million people visit Niagara County every year. The overwhelming majority of them drive here. Yes, the price of gas is outrageous, but capping the gas tax will result in higher property taxes on those who live here versus those who visit here paying a couple of bucks more for a tank of gas. Personally, I don't want to subsidize the county coffers any more than I need to if visitors to the area are willing to do their part.

Anonymous said...

The public can not "outcry" if they aren't made aware. The Niagara local print media has a penchant for bland, selective reporting.

Another question might be: where are the investigative reporters?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Parenti call LaBarbara and berate him on the telephone for getting nabbed for DWI? Another example of politicos throwing stones when they themselves live in glass houses. How come it seems that the more loudly a politico rails against someone else's shortcomings that the more likely it is that they themselves share the same shortcomings?

And I heard on the radio and its repeated by Hobbes that GP is "Democratic Party" operative. Not true. GP is an operative, and he's registered as a Democrat, but he's not been an operative for the "Democratic Party." At least not since the Steve Pigeon days in Erie County.

Parenti is a Pigeonista through and through. Through Pigeon he's worked for the Golisano campaign and he's worked with dirty trickster Roger Stone.

Stone is infamous for many dirty campaign tactics in support of Republican candidates, most notably he is credited with organizing the "Brooks Brothers Riot" against the Florida re-count in 2000. Over the last couple of weeks its come to light that Stone takes credit for tipping off the Feds that Spitzer frequented prostitutes and possibly set the feds on Eliot's pathetic trail. A claim that I'm sure Spitzer's defense team will diligently probe if the ex-Gov now Perv-in-Chief is indicted for anything to do with the Kristen Affair.

So call Gary Parenti what you will, just don't tag him or the Democratic Party with an association that goes beyond party affiliation. It just doesn't exist.

Larry S said...

Point taken on parenti, but he's out there working for someone on the Dem side. We read the stories of how he was in other states campaigning for Hillary, so he must still have some connections. So if he is not an operative for the Niag Cty Dems, who is he working for?

pirate's code said...

fawn -- Your statistics on county visitors tell only part of the story. First, and most important, I'm going to guess that not all 11 million visitors drove here, and certainly not in 11 million different cars. Further, I believe it is widely known (and much lamented) that millions of those visitors visit the Falls, but their visit lasts less than one day. So, how much gas are they buying in Niagara County?

I agree that if a cap on the sales tax were to increase property taxes, then no thank you. But, we don't know that yet, do we? Certainly, the county must have budgeted for a certain amount of sales tax based on an expected price for gasoline in this market. It would seem that if the county had budgeted sales tax for FY 2008 assuming gas prices at $2.50, for instance, but are now collecting it on $3.40, then capping it at the $2.50 shouldn't be an issue.

Some will argue that higher collection of sales tax might cause property taxes to go down. Hard to argue with that premise. But, not capping the sales tax on gas hasn't lowered my property taxes so far and, like the tourists, forces me to pay a few extra bucks for a full tank.

I suppose there is no way to know what it coming from tourists and what is generated by those of us already living here, but I have a problem with sales taxes generally because they tend to be regressive -- hurting those the most who can least afford to pay them. (There I go sounding like a liberal...gotta stop that.)

btw, weren't you involved in some sort of tragic kiln accident a few years back...?

Anonymous said...

The gas tax is another dumb idea by the ass clowns in the Democrat Minority. We are a tourisit destination where most visitors come in cars. Why are we cutting taxes on visitors?

PC makes some good points. I suggest that a portion of sales tax revenue be dedicated to a property tax stabilization fund so residents here get the break they deserve.

Fawn Leibowitz said...

Yes, PC, that is true about my accident. But the outcome was very much embellished by some silly college kids. By the way, do you mind if we dance wif yo dates?

Barney said...

Once again, we have to ask: Where is the public outcry over these findings? Where the data? It's hard to be upset if no one makes the facts easily avalaible.

Anonymous said...

I was not drunk and i cannot afford the high priced hookers that elliot gets, so i am stuck with falls st crack hoo's

pirate's code said...

fawn -- Glad to hear you're OK. By the way, your friend Shelly Dubinsky was hot.

barney -- Public outcry doesn't always have to begin with the media. You can look it up here:
http://www.niagaracounty.com/CountyBudget.asp

I did, and in the 2007 budget the county planned for $50 million in sales tax revenue. In 2008, they've budgeted for $51.5 million, or a 3 percent increase.

According to AAA, the average price of unleaded in NYS one year ago was $2.78. Yesterday it was $3.39, almost a 25 percent increase.

What I don't know is if Niagara County gasoline retailers are selling more or less than last year. If it's about the same, that tells me there is a lot more money being collected than last year.

bills320 said...

Gary Parenti, close friend of Steve Pigeon, Congressional hopeful Anthony Nanula and Niagara Falls Councilman Sam Fruscione was arrested 2:30 A.M. Easter Sunday on drunk driving and a list of other vehicle and traffic charges.

Parenti and a "friend" were stopped in a well known drug infested neighborhood of 19th Street in Niagara Falls. This is the second drunk driving arrest for Parenti who allegedly called his friend Councilman Fruscione to bail him out of jail. Rumor is Fruscione asked Falls police if they knew who he was and ordered police to suppress Parenti's arrest report. Much like he is ineffective as a councilman, Sam couldn’t help his friend, and the story was reported in 3/25's Buffalo News.

Rhonda J Mangus said...

Hobbes - Thank you for bringing attention to the fact that the Office of the New York State Comptroller is auditing all New York State school districts.

According to Di'Napoli's Office, our very own North Tonawanda City School District was audited in October 2007. I am having some difficulty obtaining the audit results, which I requested through FOIL (OSC claims they are not yet complete) and I have sought an "Advisory Opinion" from the Committee on Open Government.

I also can't find any reporting by the Tonawanda News (or Buffalo News) that OSC in fact was auditing NTCSD. If anyone knows differently, please let us know. Thanks!

rob clark said...

Rhonda, you have a wonderful blog. A friends of mine, and my wife has a gay son as well. I plan on emailing tem with your blog info.

Back to the subject at hand. We need a break from having a tax on this and a tax on that. Perhaps if the Gop Majority would have givin in to atleast half of the budget cuts that th Dem. Minority asked for we would not have to worry about what happends after placing a cap on gas taxes.

An even better idea would be to quit it with all of the patronage appointments. Or with all the political favors to Lawyers and Consultants with unnecessary studies and lawsuits.

Rhonda J Mangus said...

Hi Rob - thank you for the compliment and I hope that your friends find my blog informative and helpful.

Unfortunately however, I have to moderate my site. Nevertheless, if they have any questions or comments, they can certainly email me at standardsandtruths@gmail.com.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

rhonda --

I believe the Comptrollers site announced the beginning of an audit of NT schools, along with a bunch of others, back in October.

From prior experience, such auditing, and the report that comes from it, can take many months to complete.

That office tends to be quick in publicizing the reports once they are done. However, I am willing to sacrifice speed for thoroughness every time.

Rhonda J Mangus said...

Anonymous - thank you. Di'Napoli's Office did announce on November 8, 2007 that they had "initiated" audits of several districts, including City of North Tonawanda School District (cf. http://osc.state.ny.us/press/
releases/nov07/110807.htm).

It would therefore follow (for me) that the audit itself, perhaps not the recommendations following from the audit, is complete.

Consequently, I amended my initial FOIL request seeking the audit only to facilitate processing of the FOIL request (and as suggested to me by OSC Records Access Officer). That was over two months ago and not even a general date (let alone a specific date) was provided by OSC for forwarding of, at the very least, the audit.

In any event, I do agree with you about the willingness to sacrifice speed for thoroughness. We'll just have to wait and see what comes about with the inquiry.

Thanks again!